Like his counterpart Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb had the potential to be a lottery draft pick last season. In a weak NBA draft, the opportunity was available for him to step in and become an immediate contributor to a lottery team going nowhere.
He opted instead for a return to the California Golden Bears for a sophomore season. This meant potentially giving up on millions of dollars in salary on his rookie deal and backsliding into a far less advantageous situation.
Yet despite a disappointing season for Cal on the court, Rabb has no regrets. He says he’s a better player, and that wouldn’t have been possible without his extra year in college with the Bears. More from Mark Medina of the OC Register.
“That helped me with my mentality, just knowing how to prepare myself coming into this year, knowing what to do before games and knowing what to do before practice and after practice,” Rabb said. “Small stuff like that that will help your longevity in the league. I feel like I really needed that year to just realize what I needed.”
Let’s be clear: We have no beef with Brown leaving after his freshman season. He was ready to go, and his play with the Boston Celtics in the NBA Playoffs more than justified his decision.
But Rabb definitely had more things to work on than Brown, and he has improved in many aspects. He’s much stronger than he was in his freshman season. He has better moves. He learned more about how to be the focal point of the offense while directing traffic for one of the best defenses in the nation. Although he might not be as impressive compared to the rest of his draft class, Rabb has plenty of ability to showcase at the next level that wasn’t quite as present in his freshman campaign.
He is definitely a more ready product, but a loaded draft will probably rob him of a lottery selection. The good news for Rabb? If he goes in the late first round, there’s a good chance he ends up in the most advantageous situation to develop his talents.